I-44 Widening Project Closes On-Ramp At Riverside

Thursday, September 17th 2009, 10:42 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- ODOT plans to re-open an off-ramp from I-44 to Riverside, but not an on-ramp even though there was one there for years.  ODOT says it's to improve safety in a spot where too many on- and off-ramps were crammed in together.

The new off-ramp to Riverside Drive is the first major safety improvement of the current I-44 widening job.  Even though part of it still has to be built, the ramp will open in about a week, giving drivers westbound on I-44 an exit onto Riverside.

"It will give drivers a nice long exit ramp onto the access road," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

The new design of I-44 at Riverside eliminates the old on- and off-ramps, replacing them with a much longer off ramp that begins closer to Peoria.

ODOT wants to especially caution drivers who remember the way this interchange used to be.  There used to be an on-ramp to westbound I-44 and now it's just an off ramp.

"Sometimes people are used to turning there for an on-ramp but there won't be access there for them," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

ODOT plans extra signage to alert drivers to the change from the way it used to be.  New safety standards conflicted with the old design for on- and off-ramps between Peoria and Riverside.

"In that short space there were two on-ramps to westbound I-44 competing with one off-ramp to Riverside Drive and also a very narrow access road," said ODOT's Kenna Mitchell.

Drivers on Riverside who want to go west bound on the interstate will for now have to drive to Lewis and turn around, but eventually they'll have a turnaround at Peoria.

The off ramp will be done in about a week.  The access road and new on-ramp from Peoria will open in phases, starting in about a month.